Sunday, September 23, 2007

Four Points of Holiness. Part 1

The question often arises; “What are we to do or be about as Christians?” Depending on whom you ask the answers are quite varied. Some say relief for the poor. Yes that is part of it. Others say we are to work on right living to respond to life in ways that are pleasing to God. Yes that would be another part. After all to tell one who is despairing of daily food and place to live to pull them self up by the bootstraps is hardly being Jesus for them. In addition when presented with temptations to jump into it with abandon and figure on being sorry later is not what Jesus had in mind either.

The Apostle Peter pulled no punches when he told us to live as God would have us live;

1 Peter 1: 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." ESV

Now that is as clear as day isn’t it. All we have to do is be as holy as God is and all is well. Many can and do draw that conclusion in preparing sermons and bible studies. In recent conversation with a Christian friend she shared with me four points of a sermon she recently heard. This is the first point of the sermon.

“Holiness is an inescapable calling for every Christian in every area of their lives. It's our chief calling.”

One could reasonably come to that conclusion looking at the section of the epistle posted above. This is reasonable if one did not consider the preceding passage in the first chapter. And stop reading after the command to be as holy as God. A fourth grade education in grammar would point out that the section had something preceding it. The word Therefore tells us there is something that precedes the command. It is imperative to read the preceding verses to keep from falling into the ditch of legalism and false piety.

We have been born again into an inheritance. Inheriting is not the result of any work one does. This inheritance is brought about by the resurrection of our Lord from the dead and is kept in store for us. This striving to be holy is because of being children of God not in order to become more saved, to have more inheritance or to keep from losing it.

If that is not enough St Peter goes on to say that our ransom has been paid by the precious blood of Christ. This is ours by calling on God as Father. What Father would reject a child after he or she has stumbled in his or her behaviour. Stories have been told of parents wanting to suffer the punishment of an erring child. Now of a finite and sinful parent would do this for a child how much more a Holy and Loving God would pity an erring child. This is what God did when He became flesh and bore our sins to the cross. God determined long ago we would always fall short of Him. Jesus fulfilled this holiness for us and it is given to us graciously. Reading on through the rest of the section we see where to go and what to trust when we fail to be holy as God is. Matter of fact the epistle is rather short so nothing should keep one from reading the rest of it.

Some would object by saying that I am advocating careless living. Who on earth would think that way as a true believer and one who loves the Lamb of God? No out of love and gratitude we want to be like Jesus. And when we fail we obey Him by repenting and receiving forgiveness freely and walking on in confidence that we are loved and forgiven.

Glory be to the Father and to the † Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

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